Saturday, November 22, 2014

Meal Planning : Weekly Eats ~ Thanksgiving Edition

To get you in the mood for prepping for Thanksgiving dinner this week, we're sharing our Thanksgiving dinner ideas on Nell's Weekly Eats link-up!

The 2008 turkey that wouldn't cook. (Like the one from 2005.) Don't let me near your turkeys, guys.

This will be our first Thanksgiving with just my husband and the girls. It is a little intimidating being in charge of all the dishes, but, then, I'm only making enough for four (three, really). We're planning on having a little Pilgrim and Indian party to make it fun for the girls (and to commemorate the night my husband and I met -- yes, we met at a Pilgrim and Indian party hosted by the man himself -- so it only seems fitting). ;)

And, yes, we blow dry turkeys at my parents' house. It started when one of my brothers got the ingenious idea when my mom told him to dry it off. She meant with paper towels.

Here is the dinner plan for the evening:

baked brie with cranberries 
I won't follow this recipe to a T but it will be something similar. We'll serve this alongside some multigrain crackers. 

Main course dishes
We're actually going to bbq ours this year. My husband is a pro on the grill and he has the extra large one. So to the grill it will go.

I tend to just do one of the boxed kinds (and will probably do a cornbread one), following the instructions on the back. Exciting, I know.

Not sure yet.

cranberry sauce
Unless I get really daring, I will stick to my tried-and-true simple recipe of cranberries, sugar and water. MUCH, much better than the canned jelly stuff. Do yourself a favor and make it fresh. It is fast and easy.

brown sugar-glazed sweet potatoes with marshmallows
My family didn't do sweet potatoes growing up but they are my favorite (as well as my husband's) so we'll put them on the table this year. This recipe looks amazing.

braised dijon brussel sprouts 
They're in season and a great addition to the Thanksgiving table. This recipe will be the one.

honey whole wheat dinner rolls
I don't often do freshly baked bread (although I wish I did), but during holiday meals, I like to make an exception. These will go splendidly with our dinner.

maple pecan pie
The one we are making will not have corn syrup but brown sugar and maple to sweeten instead. I wish I had the recipe to share with you but it comes from the November edition of the Martha Stewart Living magazine. I couldn't find it on the site but with a google search you can probably find something similar.
Also, a few wines that won't break the bank but are wonderfully paired with Thanksgiving fare. 

What will you be serving on your Thanksgiving table?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli Soup

Here in Northern California I think we skipped straight from summer to winter. One week the temperatures where in the 80s, the next in the 50s. {I know most of you don't consider that winter temperatures, but for us that is cold!}

My favorite thing to make when the temperatures drop is a large pot of soup to warm up chilly bodies. Plus, soup recipes always seem to make enough for plenty of leftovers -- one thing I'll never complain about!

Today's recipe is perfect for lunch, dinner, and snacks in between. A cheesy soup with plenty of protein packed in by adding chicken to the mix. Toss in broccoli and you practically have a one pot meal!

Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli Soup 
adapted from a recipe by Six Sisters' Stuff

2 - 2 1/2 lbs. chicken breasts, diced after cooking

onion, diced
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 c. butter
1 c. flour
8 c. reserved chicken broth
2 heads of broccoli, heads cut off into bite size pieces
1 1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. garlic powder
1 t. black pepper
1/2 t. cayenne pepper
1 c. whole milk
5 c. sharp cheddar cheese, grated (not packed)

Ahead of time, fill a large stock pot half full with water and place your chicken breasts inside. Boil over high heat for about 30-40 minutes, until cooked through. Reserve water to use as broth and allow chicken to cool.

Heat butter over medium high heat in a large stock pot. Add onion and garlic, cooking for about 5 minutes until onion is softened. Add in flour, stirring well so that is does not burn to bottom of the pan, for about one minute. Slowly add in chicken broth, stirring well after each cup addition. Throw in diced chicken and broccoli, along with the spices and salt. Bring to a slow boil and cook for 30 minutes.

Add in milk and cheese, stirring until cheese is melted in.

Makes about 6-8 servings as a main dish.

Wonderful served with sourdough bread or multigrain crackers.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Meal Planning : Weekly Eats with Whole Parenting Family {Vol. 4}

It's that time again -- Saturday Weekly Eats with Whole Parenting Family!

We've got a pretty basic meal plan this week. Quite a bit of comfort food and a whole lotta protein 'cause this cold weather (finally!) is making us hangry! (Yes, hangry. This household gets a bad case of hunger anger when our stomachs are growling.)

Food photos are lacking this week, but there's the bbq!

Monday - Bacon and cheddar quiche and carrots (Just a basic quiche recipe -- placed cooked bacon and grated cheddar in the bottom of a pie crust, mixed together 6 eggs and 1/2 c. of half and half {you can use cream or milk too), and poured it on top. Baked at 350 F for one hour.)

Tuesday - Fajitas (grilled some skirt steak, and green bell peppers and onions; grated cheddar; avocado; salsa -- all on small flour tortillas)

Wednesday - leftover fajitas (it's always helpful to make enough in one night for two!)

Thursday - out to dinner with my mom at this wonderful restaurant

Friday - Chicken, Cheddar, and Broccoli Soup with sourdough bread (recipe for the soup to come this week!)

Saturday - Pizza with pepperonis, olives and mushrooms and salad (Trader Joe's dough)

Sunday - Roasted Sausages, Apples and Potatoes with salad (thanks to Laura at This Felicitous Life for the idea/link!)

What are you eating this week?

Monday, November 10, 2014

Butternut Squash Orecchiette with Ricotta

 Another winner on our quest to cook with squash. We don't eat many meatless dishes but this one kept us full and satisfied for the evening.

For those who haven't had experience with cutting up squash, they can be a bit tricky. The butternut squash is easiest peeled first with a vegetable peeler and, then, sliced in half lengthwise. Scoop out the pulp and seeds, and cut it up. 

Butternut Squash Orecchiette with Ricotta

1 butternut squash cut up into bite size pieces
1 yellow onion, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
4 cloves of garlic, sliced thinly 
about 20 fresh sage leaves
olive oil
1 lb. orecchiette
15 oz. whole milk ricotta
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Place butternut squash, onion, garlic and sage on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and mix to coat. Cook for 40 minutes, stirring a couple times.

Cook orecchiette al dente in a pot of boiling water. Reserve about 1/2 c. of pasta water and dispose of the rest after cooking. 

Place cooked orecchiette with pasta water into a large bowl. Mix well with ricotta cheese. Stir in roasted veggies and sage with the pasta and cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Makes about 4 servings.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Meal Planning : Weekly Eats with Whole Parenting Family {Vol. 3}

I like trying new recipes. (I guess that is obvious since I also like to create them.) Most weeks, it works out about half old, half new recipes. I strongly suggest trying at least one, if not two new recipes a week. They don't need to be difficult. But just something to help expand your repertoire.

Always when you are thinking of trying a new recipe, read it ALL THE WAY THROUGH before you commit. Before you go grocery shopping. There may be a new skill involved that might take more time. There may be an ingredient that is too expensive, so best to substitute or move on. (I really love The Flavor Bible for substitution ideas. It is the number one book all those who love to cook should have.) It is just best to know what you are committing yourself to.

This week is heavy on the new recipes (including two I've developed myself). I suppose I felt a bit ambitious this week. Not always the norm. :)

Monday - Beef-Stuffed Acorn Squash

Tuesday - Frozen Taquitos and leftover stuffing from squash (I doubled it)

Wednesday - Butternut Squash Orechiette with Ricotta {recipe in progress...}

Thursday - Spaghetti with meat sauce and mushrooms and green beans (just basic ground beef, sauteed mushrooms and store-bought marinara -- frozen green beans)

Friday - Crockpot Pot Roast with mashed potatoes

Saturday - Chicken Cheddar Broccoli Soup with French bread

Sunday - Pepperoni Pizza {{for the birthday girl!}} (picked up pre-made pizza dough and toppings from Trader Joes)

What are you cooking this week?

Linking up with Whole Parenting Family for Weekly Eats Saturday.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Beef-Stuffed Acorn Squash

Acorn squash is one of the quintessential autumn veggies. It is a treat roasted on its own with a bit of butter and brown sugar. But make it the center of your main dish by using it as a receptacle of your protein and it can really stand out!

The nutty flesh of the squash pairs itself well with Mexican-inspired seasoning in this simple dish, easy to put together quickly on a weeknight.

The squash are roasted separately while the meat filling comes together on the stove. Finish it off with a sprinkling of cheese and a few minutes back in the oven once stuffed and you're set!

Beef-Stuffed Acorn Squash

2 acorn squash, halved with the seeds and pulp scooped out
olive oil

1/2 lb ground beef
1-2 garlic cloves
1/4 c. chopped onion
1/2 c. cooked rice
1/2 c. black beans
1/4 c. crushed tomatoes
salt and pepper
1/4 t. cumin
1/4 t. oregano
dash of cayenne pepper

1/3 c. grated sharp cheddar cheese

Heat oven to 425 degrees F. Drizzle acorn squash with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Place face down in a baking dish and bake 35-45 minutes.

While squash is baking, brown ground beef in a saucepan over medium-high heat on the stove. Add onions and garlic, cooking for another couple minutes until onions are softened. Turn heat down to low. Add in rice, beans, and tomatoes. Mix well. Then, add in spices and mix well again.

 Flip acorn squash cavity side up and fill each with a quarter of the filling. Sprinkle cheese on top and put back in the oven for about 5 minutes, until cheese is melted.